European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 803–807 | Cite as

An audio/video surveillance system for wildlife

  • Roman Gula
  • Jörn Theuerkauf
  • Sophie Rouys
  • Andrew Legault
Short Communication


We report 7 years of experience with an inexpensive and reliable continuous audio/video recording system. The main components of the system are commercial, infrared illuminator surveillance cameras, mini microphones and portable digital video recorders, powered by deep cycle lead-acid batteries. We used the system for monitoring 41 broods of four endemic bird species in tropical rainforests of New Caledonia. We recorded for over 22,000 h in total. We kept the system at nests for a maximum period of 7 months, and the longest time we continuously recorded for was 58 days. We watched the recordings at 24–36 times speed and were able to recognise individuals, quantify their behaviour and document visits of predators. The system proved its applicability in behavioural studies of nesting birds, but we believe it is appropriate for continuous monitoring of any site frequently visited by wildlife.


Methods Video surveillance Nest monitoring Digital video 



This study was part of the research project “Impact of introduced mammals and habitat loss on endemic birds of New Caledonia”, done in cooperation with the Direction de l’Environnement (Province Sud, New Caledonia), which issued all permits for this study, and financed by the Loro Parque Fundación (Spain), Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Grant 2P04F 001 29), Conservation des Espèces et Populations Animales (France), La Fondation Nature et Découvertes (France), Fonds für bedrohte Papageien-Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten-und Populationsschutz (Germany), and doctoral grants from Province Sud (to SR) and the University of Tasmania (to AL). We thank M. Broersen, C. Chatreau, P. de Pous, D. Dingemans, S. Duijns, B. Michielsen, E. Minnema, L. Nijdam, H. Theuerkauf, J. van Dijk, M. van Opijnen and J. Wardenaar for their help during field work.


  1. BirdLife International (2009a) Species factsheet: Cyanoramphus saisetti. Downloaded from on 15/3/2010
  2. BirdLife International (2009b) Species factsheet: Eunymphicus cornutus. Downloaded from on 15/3/2010
  3. Colombelli-Négrel D, Robertson J, Kleindorfer S (2009) A new audio-visual technique for effectively monitoring nest predation and the behaviour of nesting birds. Emu 109:83–88Google Scholar
  4. Currie D, Nour N, Adriaensen F (1996) A new technique for filming prey delivered to nestlings, making minimal alterations to the nest box. Bird Study 43:380–382Google Scholar
  5. Dearborn DC (1996) Video documentation of a brown-headed cowbird nestling ejecting an indigo bunting nestling from the nest. Condor 98:645–649Google Scholar
  6. Delaney DK, Grubb TG (1998) An infrared video camera system for monitoring diurnal and nocturnal raptors. J Raptor Res 32:290–296Google Scholar
  7. Huckschlag D (2008) Development of a digital infrared video camera system for recording and remote capturing. Eur J Wildl Res 54:651–655Google Scholar
  8. Kleist AM, Lancia RA, Doerr PD (2007) Using video surveillance to estimate wildlife use of a highway underpass. J Wildl Manage 71:2792–2800Google Scholar
  9. Létocart Y, Salas M (1997) Spatial organization and breeding of Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus in Rivière Bleue Park, New Caledonia. Emu 97:97–107Google Scholar
  10. Lin R-S, Yao C-T, Lee P-F (2007) The diet of fairy pitta Pitta nympha nestlings in Taiwan as revealed by videotaping. Zool Stud 46:355–361Google Scholar
  11. Margalida A, Ecolan S, Boudet J, Bertran J, Martinez J-M, Heredia R (2006) A solar-powered transmitting video camera for monitoring cliff-nesting raptors. J Field Ornithol 77:7–12Google Scholar
  12. ORSTOM (1981) Atlas de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et Dépendances. Éditions de l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre Mer, ParisGoogle Scholar
  13. Pierce AJ, Pobprasert K (2007) A portable system for continuous monitoring of bird nests using digital video recorders. Field Ornithol 78:322–328Google Scholar
  14. Reif V, Tornberg R (2006) Using time-lapse digital recording for a nesting study of birds of prey. Eur J Wildl Res 52:251–258Google Scholar
  15. Rouys S, Theuerkauf J (2003) Factors determining the distribution of introduced mammals in nature reserves of the southern province, New Caledonia. Wildl Res 30:187–191Google Scholar
  16. Scheibe KM, Eichhorn K, Wiesmayr M, Schonert B, Krone O (2008) Long-term automatic video recording as a tool for analysing the time patterns of utilisation of predefined location by wild animals. Eur J Wildl Res 54:53–59Google Scholar
  17. Theuerkauf J, Rouys S, Mériot JM, Gula R (2009a) Group territoriality as a form of cooperative breeding in the flightless Kagu of New Caledonia. Auk 126:371–375Google Scholar
  18. Theuerkauf J, Rouys S, Mériot JM, Gula R, Kuehn R (2009b) Cooperative breeding, mate guarding, and nest sharing in two parrot species of New Caledonia. J Ornithol 150:791–797Google Scholar
  19. Towns DR, Atkinson IAE, Daugherty CH (2006) Have the harmful effects of introduced rats on islands been exaggerated? Biol Inv 8:863–891Google Scholar
  20. Warner DW (1948) The present status of kagu, Rhynochetos jubatus, on New Caledonia. Auk 65:287–288Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roman Gula
    • 1
  • Jörn Theuerkauf
    • 1
  • Sophie Rouys
    • 2
    • 3
  • Andrew Legault
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Museum and Institute of ZoologyPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Conservation Research New CaledoniaNouméa CedexNew Caledonia
  3. 3.Société Calédonienne d’OrnithologieNouméa CedexNew Caledonia
  4. 4.School of ZoologyUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations